I've kept this list short because you've undoubtedly seen these and countless other issues covered ad nauseum over the past few months.
Though some decisions may have significant long-term benefits, many of them are tactical, short-term changes that will save you relatively insignificant amounts.
Do not let them distract you from the responsibility of thinking about the big picture.
That demands that you, as well as our elected officials in Washington, envision the future you are trying to finance and make the kinds of real long-term planning decisions and commitments that can make such a future a reality.
(Read More: Complaints Aside, Most Face Lower Tax Burden Than in 1980)
"The Fiscal Cliff" provides a great example of what happens in the absence of a plan, when you come up with solutions on only an ad hoc basis, treating issues as if they're items on a checklist. Tasks can be handled on a deadline, but planning requires time and contemplation.
First, you need to identify your goals, and then you have to think about how to reach them, working on on your own or, if need be, with the help of a financial professional.
Congress has given us a tutorial showing the consequences of not planning for the future strategically. Every short-term kick of the can may buy some time, but eventually the clock does strike twelve. We need to plan the appropriate actions lest our dreams for the future turn into pumpkins and mice.
(Watch More: Fiscal Cliff End Game In Sight: Pro)
As the clock ticks closer to 12/31/12, we'd all be wise to come up with our best work and not squander the benefits provided by the motivation of the last minute.
(Read More: Some Analysts Doubt Dire Predictions on Tax Increase Fallout)
Kenneth A. Kamen is a managing director of The Mercadien Group and president of Mercadien Asset Management and Mercadien Securities, as well as the author of the highly acclaimed book from Bloomberg Press,"Reclaim Your Nest Egg: Take Control of your Financial Future."